Today in History:

51 Series I Volume VI- Serial 6 - Fort Pulaski - New Orleans


word that he had met a flag of truce, and that the officer bearing it asked for permission to take off their dead. The gunboats were about firing a few shells into the woods where the skirmishers of the enemy had been observed. The firing was immediately stopped, and I sent Lieutenant Lyons back twice, granting a truce of one hour for that purpose, but he did not on either occasion find the flag. The gunboats were now brought into position on either side of the ferry and placed suitably to cover our operations, and I at once proceeded to make the proper dispositions for the night, established a strong picket force, with the entire Roundhead regiment as a reserve, and had the ferry properly prepared for the return of the troops.

My post and brigade quartermaster, Captain William Lilley, in this business was most efficient, for he, entirely in the night, absolutely restored the old ferry, ropes, windlass, and all, and with the assistance of two of my staff, Lieutenant Cottrell, Eighth Michigan, and Lieutenant Lyons, Fiftieth Pennsylvania, made arrangements for the most rapid and most orderly recrossing of the troops. The use of the ferry was required early in the morning for the passage of wagons and the 12-pounder and its carriage, which was the only one piece of ordnance found in the fort.

About 9 o'clock the work of crossing the troops commenced. The passage-way is about 550 feet wide. The whole force of 3,000 men, with their horses, was over at 12 o'clock. It was not less orderly than rapid. The enemy was in considerable force in the woods back of our position, watching our movements. The shell from the gunboats kept him very quiet. At 12 o'clock I myself crossed with the last of the forces, having caused the buildings in the vicinity of the fort to be burned and the fort to be leveled sufficiently for all practical purposes.

I cannot close this report without congratulating the commanding general and the country on the good conduct of the troops under my command, none of whom, except the Highlanders, had ever been under fire before, and on the perfect success of the expedition, placed by him, so far as regards the land forces, in my hands. Looking to the marches by land and the movements by water, looking to the very considerable combination involved in the final concentration of troops, it is a little remarkable that every departure in detail from the original plan, and indeed every accident, seemed only to further it. We effected in flat-boats, manned by negroes alone and without the aid of a single employe, a landing on the enemy's shore, having to cross in our boats a space of 3 miles. We moved to our point not along the main road, but across the fields and along paths shown us by negroes picked up upon the shore. We engaged the enemy on our own and not on his field. We gave him fair challenge of battle. Every regiment of my command was, through its skirmishers, brought into contact with him. He kept under cover, fell back from his position, and yield the field to us. Our troops have confidence in themselves and faith in the bayonet.

This, in brief, is the history of the expedition and its morale, to be shown, I trust, more signally on future fields. Moreover, this is the first occasion the system of signals invented by Major Myer has been tested in actual battle. I claim for the signal officers of my staff-Lieutenant Tafft and Lieutenant Cogswell-the merit of showing the code to be a perfect success, and myself the good fortune of commanding on the occasion.

Says Lieutenant Cogswell, who was on board the Ottawa:

Permit me, before closing, to call your attention to the able and efficient manner in which Lieutenant Tafft managed the signals on shore. During the whole march from